Every public transport ticketing system change in Melbourne since the introduction of scratch tickets in the has been unpopular. Scratch tickets, and the removal of conductors from trams, were hugely so – and as the linked post argues, helped to create a culture of fare evasion that continue to plague Melbourne’s public transport.
While the development of the Myki system has been ridiculously over budget, I have to say that the system in full operation works is actually an improvement on Metcards. Mykis are far less fragile than Metcards ever were; they also avoid you needing to think about what type of ticket you should buy; you just hop on the train and let the technology figure it out.
But, still, the fundamental misunderstanding of their job of the people in charge of the system flabbergasts me sometimes. As somebody who’s used a lot of public transport systems across the world, ticketing in a foreign city is always confusing, and Myki is a fair bit less confusing than most. And so tourists are pretty much always going to complain. But, really, this is just outrageously incompetent:
Mr Carolan said ticketing bosses wanted to make the system work for visitors and tourists.
Skybus recently started selling myki visitor packs, and there were plans for the cards to be sold at Melbourne Airport and visitors’ cards to be returned and recycled.
Did anybody in the Victorian government consider that the experience of Melbourne’s public transport was likely to be a major component of how tourists – and business travellers, for that matter – experience the city? That getting this stuff right matters – and they needed to be on the case of the Myki team to make sure it was dealt with? It’s not rocket science. They need to make it easy for tourists to a) buy a Myki, b) how to touch on and off b) understand how to keep it charged up if necessary, and the likely maximum cost per day, and d) make it dead easy to get a refund on the card and unused credit before they go, and this should have been ready to go on the shutdown date.
It’s not like they haven’t had plenty of time to plan the transition, given the years of delay. And they still don’t have a mechanism for easy refunds for tourists – and instructions for tourists in a variety of languages made available as they come in? Ridiculous.
I’m afraid it comes back to the problem that was identified with the introduction of scratch tickets all those years ago; the ticketing authorities still don’t realize that the way to maximise revenue is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to pay for their public transport, and that principle needs to be given first, second, and third priority before everything else.
But given the sorry history of public transport ticketing not only in Melbourne but around Australia – Sydney’s ticketing system is worse still – I reckon we’ll be having the same battle in another 15 years or so when Myki bites the dust.